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2012 UCLA Football Season Preview: Nebraska Cornhuskers

The 2012 UCLA football season is an anticipated one. We’re not sure if this is a good thing or a very, very bad thing, but we’re curious as hell. 

And with the UCLA football season 43 days away, we figured we’d try and figure out where this squad is by previewing our opponents while determining where UCLA has some advantages. 

We kicked off our preview with the Rice Owls. Let’s move on to our Week 2 match-up, the Nebraska Cornhuskers. 

The Plot

Nebraska fans are getting a little restless. Although the team has won nine games in each of the past four seasons since head honcho Bo Pelini took over and has ended the past three seasons as a top-25 team, Cornhusker nuts are getting worried now.

Weird, you think to yourself. If UCLA had four nine-win seasons in a row (with a couple of ten-win seasons thrown in), we’ll go bat-shit insane, at least sitting from where we’re at, after finishing under .500 since 1492, and probably some time before that.

Nebraska is a good time, though. Don’t act as if those nine- and ten-win seasons are filled with crappy losses, and let’s not pretend that this team isn’t as good as people make them out to be. They’re good. But they’re not great and, ultimately, that’s what Nebraska wants: To be great. That desire has caused Cornhusker fans to start believing that Bo Pelini’s seat may be getting hot, and soon.

That’s what we’re striving for, here at UCLA, and we hope to be where Nebraska is: Whining over nine-win seasons.

Nebraska Offense vs. UCLA Defense

The Nebraska offense has gotten a bit better and saw the unit make nice strides in 2011. Sure, the total yards on offense took a bit of a dip — not a dive at all from 398 yards per game in 2010 to 380 yards per game in 2011 — but QB Taylor Martinez, in his second year as a starter for Nebraska, became far more well-rounded and matured a great deal. In 2010, the dude was a threat to run and in 2011, he became a dual-threat QB that had his fair share of solid performances under center. Nebraska fans are optimistic as hell about the dude, and people are sure that Martinez can establish himself as an elite QB in 2012.

The running game? That’s been good for awhile, in Nebraska. They were 15th in the nation in rushing yards per game and ran for significantly less yards than they did in 2010 with 3500 yards on the ground two seasons ago. This year, they head into the season with could be one of the best running backs in the nation in Rex Burkhead (one of the most masculine names in college football, for damn sure). Dude ran for 1400 yards and banged in 15 touchdowns last season and he’ll be in contention for the label of best RB in the B1G.

UCLA will have problems here. The front seven in Westwood should hold up and stay competitive, since that’s UCLA’s strength, and even more so now that UCLA has all the personnel to effectively run a 3-4 defense. That’ll be necessary against a vaunted running attack that a school like Nebraska boasts. Sure, we won’t shut these guys down, especially since Nebraska’s offense will be versatile and the QB play should improve on their end. But we should be competitive here, at the very least.

The passing game is what UCLA should be worried about; as Jim Mora stated during Spring Practice, the secondary is awfully thin. Taylor Martinez will progress, we’re sure, and he could cause us trouble if he attacks us with his arm rather than his legs.

Nebraska Defense vs. UCLA Offense

If you wanted to know why the hell Bo Pelini is on the hot-seat, this — this Nebraska defense, one of the better defenses in the nation a few years ago — is why.

Because Cornhusker fans are worried that a defensive season like the one they had in 2011 — where they allowed nearly 50 more yards per game than the year prior, while also allowing 1.2 more touchdowns per game and ranking 50th in the nation in points allowed — is a sign of mediocrity on the horizon. Their worry is valid, too, because numbers don’t lie. Their defense against mobile QBs has been atrocious and teams have figured out how to tear the defense apart in that regard, even if the issue is long-withstanding among Cornhusker fans.

Of course, UCLA has some weapons to further worry Nebraska nuts. Should Brett Hundley rip the starting QB spot from senior Richard Brehaut, you’d have to imagine just how much Nebraska can take. Hundley, in case you didn’t know, is a hell of a dual-threat QB and is big, fast and quick enough to pick apart Nebraska with his legs. Coupled with Hundley’s arm — which has been much-improved this spring, but probably not as good as Brehaut’s arm — the Nebraska defensive squad is in for a long-ass day.

If Brehaut’s the QB, though? UCLA is done. Nebraska has made quick work of pocket QBs, and we’re sure they’ll do the same in this situation despite our somewhat-improved offensive line.

Prediction: Nebraska 31, UCLA 20. 

We hope this UCLA team stays competitive against what should be a top-25 team (whether Cornhusker fans like it or not). A score of 31-20 may not look all that competitive, but Nebraska’s a good team and UCLA will have to put a lot together, two weeks into the season, to beat this team.

It’s possible, though. If the UCLA secondary isn’t as bad as we think it’ll be, and if the Nebraska defense continues its regression? UCLA could squeeze one out against a very good squad.

We’ll see, though. Fingers crossed.


Tags: Bo Pelini Nebraska Football Taylor Martinez UCLA Football Ucla Football Preview

  • clingon

    I’m a Big RedHusker Fan but not a Husker Nut which believe me we have more than our share of them. The typical Husker nut lives breathes Big Red Foot Ball and places it above GOD an Family and i say that in all seriousness. They literally love an worship Tom Osbrne as theGOD of Foot Ball and can do no wrong ever. Will we beat UCLA to that i say we should but we should have beat Northwestern at home last year and Washington in the Holliday Bowl the previous year. Bo Pelini Teams are inconsistent teams. So Bruins your guess is as good as any ones if Nebraska wins there or not. I often think PelinisTeams are over trained and afraid to make mistakes. Their you have it one Husker fans thoughts.

    • andy

      Nice try jerk.. Clearly some a hole trying to make Cornhusker fans look bad. Football over faith, Osborne a God? Nice try.. Love football no doubt but Osborne wasn’t even voted Governor. Terrible grammar, misspellings, awful sentence structure. Troll trying to make Husker fans look bad, not a Husker fan. Pretty transparent really.

      • York1

        Agreed. This “clingon” has 324 comments on the gojoebruin site. Husker fans are rabid, but it’s difficult to believe a husker fan would post 324 times on the UCLA site.

        • clingon

          York i have no idea who the Clingon is that you claim has posted 324 times on the Bruin site as i’ve never been on it period. I’m sure there are other sites with a user using the user name Clingon. And yes indeed i am a Husker Fan not a NUT. I used to go to all the Husker Games when Devaney was Coach until 71 when we moved from Lincoln. But if you do not see the rabid NUT that Andy is then i guess you do not understand what a HUSKER NUT is. I can say what i said from reading on line on the HUSKER sites and i stand by my comments. By the way not every Corn Husker obviously wanted DR.Tom as Govenor and he was politically considered a Moderate but was a great Foot Ball Coach.

      • clingon

        Nice try Andy as you just proved my point. As to York 1 this is the first time i’ve ever posted or even read a Bruin site so have no idea who the other clingon might be. But back to Andy as i never said Osborne was GOD but the GOD of football. I was directing my thoughts and words to the fans and talking about the NUTs which you obviously are.

  • SomeDude

    Hundley and Brehaut both looked good in the UCLA spring game so it will be interesting to see who starts. Hundley can probably cause some fits with his legs because, as stated in the article, NU and Pelini can’t seem to stop a mobile QB. But, in order to get some of those running lanes he is going to have to stretch the field vertically and loosen up the NU back seven and he showed glimpses of that in the spring game. On the other hand, Brehaut did look good throwing deep balls in the spring game. However, I think Hundley will ultimately get the nod and will be a Heisman candidate in a couple more years.

    I think this is going to be a good game. UCLA’s offense, with more weapons than people realize, will keep them in it during the first half against NU’s talented but inexperienced defense. It should be tight going into halftime with either team leading by a slim margin. But, I think NU will pull away in the second half because UCLA’s defense will not be able to keep pace.

    I agree with clingon (despite his grammar) when he says Pelini’s teams are over trained. Seems like NU always has players banged up and worn down.

    • SomeDude

      Forgot to say this is from the perspective of a NU fan

      • SomeDude

        Looked into Brehaut and Hundley more and that is going to be a close race for the starting QB spot. At this point the job could belong to either one of them. I can’t wait to see who goes and earns that starting spot come game day.

        • GoJoeBruinUCLA

          It should be fun. We’re excited because neither were very bad; Brehaut played better than Hundley did — he’s a pocket-passer — but people love Hundley because he was so highly-recruited and pegged as the savior of UCLA football.

  • Shane


  • GBR, brahG

    It’s not that Husker Nation is upset with 9 and 10 seasons, so much as we’re upset with lack of hardware in recent years. When ya win 7 conference titles and 3 nat’l championships in a decade like we did in the 90′s, the expectation of the fan base is we’d do the same in the next decade. Shit ain’t hattenin’. Didn’t happen. Won’t happen. So that’s where our frustration stems from. However pipe-dream-ish it might be. We just wanna be in the top tier again, damnit!
    I agree with the 31-20 prediction. If NU doesn’t bring their A game, UCLA could squeak one by us, like we let underdog teams do Once or twice every damn year…
    Good luck Bruins, and I’ll see ya in Pasadena!

  • HskrFan

    I am a Husker Nut and try to keep up with all the goings-on in Husker Nation (yes, I pay $10 for a ticket to the spring game and go to the Fan Day with extreme excitement). That being said, fans of the Huskers have extremely high expectations. Personally, the issue I have is with the inconsistency with the team. Your assessment of the mobile quarterbacks beating the NU defense is right on. In NUs loss against Northwestern, the pocket passer was injured in the first half and the mobile quarterback played the rest of the game. Early defense was good, but went downhill after the mobile quarterback started making big plays with his legs. Now it’s true that late in the game the defense played a little better and the offense started to gain momentum, but it was all too little too late. Inconsistent play from the offense, inability of the defense to corral the mobile quarterback. That’s your blueprint to beating the Huskers.

    Now, if the NU offense plays up to their abilities, they can score on anybody, and will tear up mediocre defenses late in games with pounding the ball using Rex Burkhead and play-action passing with the tight end. This is the second year with our OC Tim Beck (and the first time Taylor Martinez hasn’t had to learn a completely new offensive scheme), and the offense should be able to function MUCH more effectively. NU has playmakers (finally) on most levels of the offense, with the offensive line being the weak link in the chain. Good news for NU fans, bad news for DCs trying to come up with game plans against the Huskers.

    Your prediction is a good guess, as good as anybody’s. I like your score and just hope for a good game!

    GO BIG RED!!

  • 4everBruin

    The starting Bruin QB will be the one that showed Mora he could effectively run the Mazzone D killing spread offense. The interior O Line will be a UCLA strength, making a strong inside power running game a threat. Franklin is a legit 1,000 yard rusher and Jones is a 220lb load. Nebraska will have to defend the run game, leaving one less defender to cover quick hitting passes to our playmakers in space.

    Nebraska has a solid offense and a very good, mobile QB. The 3-4 Defense Spanos is installing is designed to counter this type of offense. Our D Line will be a strength. We have big, athletic nose tackles in Willis and McCarthy with fast, very athletic DEs to pressure the QB. They will allow our LBs to make plays in space or stuff the run game. Our secondary is thin, but the starters will be much more effective this year, under the aggressive Spanos defense.

    My prediction: A close game. Nebraska’s D will be worn down by the 4th quarter trying to defense the spread, leaving the UCLA inside running game to pound the ball. I have UCLA winning at home, 27-24.

    • GoJoeBruinUCLA

      STRETCH. UCLA could win, but I don’t know. We’ll see.

      • 4everBruin

        Not a stretch at all. Nebraska is a really solid team, but not elite. Their D is particularly vulnerable to the quick hit, spread the field type of offense. It will be a close, hard fought game.

  • Paul Edwards

    Good article. I’m a Nebraska fan for life and I’d like to explain the defensive woes last season so your readers know the inside story.
    Coming into last year, there was talk that this defense would be the best in Pelinis rein..potential All Americans on every level…Jared Crick on the line, Lavonte David at linebacker, and Alfonzo Dennard at CB. Well Crick wasn’t the same in the first part of the season for reasons that are still unclear, but got hurt and was out for the rest of the season after the 6th game. Lavonte David had a huge year, but Dennard was out for the first 4 games due to an injury and it took him another 4 games to really get back to form. Add to that many other injuries to the D line and it was a horrible year for our defense.
    This year, without any real big stars, this defense is expected to be a MUCH better defense all around with lots of depth. Backups got a lot of playing time last year and many are starters now, and with 2 key Juco transfers in Mohomid Seasay at CB and Zaire Anderson at linebacker, we should be a pretty stout defense. Lots of young guys waiting to break out too. It does not pay to count a Pelini defense out as he is generally regarded as a defensive genius. And last year was his worst in 4 years he’s been at Nebraska.
    But then again, not even 10 wins in good enough for Nebraska fans, accustomed to the glory days of the mid 1990′s when we had the best 5 year streak in college football history. Osborne went 60-3. Some freshmen on that team went their whole careers without ever seeing a regular season loss. Think about that.
    There are no great lakes, no great mountain ranges, no beaches and certainly no great entertainment industries in the state of Nebraska like you do in SoCal…we’ve got 2 things in Nebraska…the best steaks you’ll ever eat baby, and the Nebraska Cornhuskers. And in Nebraska, If you’re not a fan, you get beat up a lot!

  • todd

    great honest assessment…..should be a great game….look for the “Sea of Red” in the Rose Bowl….GBR!!!

  • Michael Castillo

    Good stuff, Chuck. Good prediction, but I offer this questions: Will there be more Nebraska fans or UCLA fans at the Rose Bowl? Me thinks there will be a lot of red.

    • Carlos Sandoval

      Thanks, Mike. There were a metric crap-load of Texas fans at the Rose Bowl last season, so I wouldn’t doubt the GBR fan-base will get it together and make it out. that said, yes, I agree, until the UCLA fan-base gets off its ass

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